First, thank you so SO much for the powerful response to Adventures With Anxiety! It means a lot to see that this story – inspired by my own life story – can help other folks' life stories, in some small way. 💖
In fact, let me brag a bit, and show off the fanart folks have drawn of their own "anxiety animals." Or should I say... "fearsonas"?
Speaking of art from fans, here's art *for* fans.
✏️If you got the $10+ Patreon Reward, you should've gotten your hand-drawn peeps last week! Please message me if you didn't get yours.
Here's a sampling of the peeps and polygons:
So, what's next?
I've been thinking a lot about this, life-wise. For 20+ years, I've organized my life and sense of purpose around projects. I've always been haunted (as in "anxiety disorder" haunted) by that question,
"What can I do that's most valuable to the world?"
So I asked a few friends – who, IMHO, do world-valuable work – how they answer that question. Their reply:
From a neuroscientist friend: Sure, her research may eventually cure Parkinson's or whatever, but the "problem" with foundational research is you CAN'T know the applications in advance. Therefore: she gains meaning from what she *does* have control over: learning deeply, asking good questions, doing rigorous and honest research.
From a edu-YouTuber friend: He reminded me about "spontaneous order" and "emergence", how local choices lead to global changes. (See: Parable of the Polygons) His advice: just do what's helpful/healthy for you, and – as long as it's not harmful/unhealthy to others – your local actions will lead to the global good anyway.
- "Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others"
- Keep your Circle of Concern ≈ Circle of Influence
- Social contagion: improving your own well-being improves the well-being of those around you (Fowler & Christakis, 2008)
- Think LOCAL act local
- You need to be inspired by your own art for it to be inspiring to others
- "Nicky isn't your whole put-others-before-yourself mindset the reason you've been in a lot of abusive situations where you enabled a life-sucking vampire by trying to 'save' them?"
And yet, "do what's fulfilling for you (that doesn't harm others)" still feels... selfish. Like, where would we be without Gandhis or MLKs, who sacrifice themselves for the greater good? Or maybe it never felt like a "sacrifice", that just was what's fulfilling for them?
(What do you think of this "conflict"(?) between doing what's valuable for yourself "vs"(?) others? Tell me in the Patreon comments!)
I don't know. So, here's my plan:
For the next 6 months, I'm going to experiment with being more "selfish".
- less structuring my life around projects
- more quality time with friends, playing with new hobbies, going for long walks in the woods.
As for projects:
- not just "explorable explanations" or "educational"
- also comics, videos, games, stories, essays, talks, toys
- less second-guessing what's valuable for a statistical median person out there in the world
- more focusing on what fulfils me: working with friends, learning new things, making cool art.
For example – teasers for future projects! – here's 11 ideas I've at least already outlined:
- ⚛️ "Quantum Computing In Playable Pictures", an explorable + collab with physics & designer friends
- 📊 "Statistics Without The Excruciating Pain", an explorable + collab with datasci friend
- 💭 "The Mind From The Neuron Up", an explorable + collab with cogsci/neurosci friends
- 🗣 A spectrograph web-tool to help me + other trans/non-binary folks train their voice
- ⛄️ Redesign & port SineRider, a playful math game by a close friend
- 🗃 A Spaced Repetition browser extension, so you can make + review SR cards while you're reading stuff online
- 😱 A 2-minute horror game for Halloween + collab with comics friend
- 📖 A comic-essay about how I write stories (Stone & Parker's "Therefore & But", McKee's "Values & Conflicts")
- 👩🏻🏫 A comic/video essay about the most evidence-based teaching strategies. (A lil' acronym I cooked up – STRIPE: Spacing, Testing, Randomization, Interrogation, Pictures, Examples)
- 🐺 A mental health comic series of each emotion (e.g. fear) as an animal, (guard dog) describing their adaptive function, (protecting you) their "maladaptive state", (anxiety disorder) and how to build a healthy relationship with that emotion.
- 🦊 A webcam toy where you can replace your face with a cartoon character of your own design. OwO.
(What do you think of these project ideas? Leave a comment!)
So that's my experiment of "just do what's valuable for me (that's not unhealthy for others)". Will try it out for 6 months, if by the end of it I'm a corrupted monster, I'll revert my brain-branch to an old commit.
I'll keep y'all posted. And as always, thank you so so so so so much. <3